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MOI to standardize land use in Cingjing

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Minister of the Interior Lee Hong-yuan (李鴻源) yesterday said there will only be one set of maps and land analysis methods that will be used by both the central government and local government to handle land overuse issues across the country.

The land over-utilization at Cingjing Farm (清境農場) has been a central issue at the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) over the past week. Lee's remark came after hostels at Cingjing Farm and the Nantou County Government argued that the MOI's recently released initial land analysis results were reckless. The results of that analysis showed that over 60 percent of Cingjing Farm lies in a middle- to high-risk zone for natural disasters.

The results of Nantou's initial land analysis, however, show a very different result, with only 20 percent of farms shown to be within a middle- to high-risk zone.

Local commentators and media have said the individual land analysis methods adopted by the MOI and Nantou have confused not only hostel operators but the whole nation.

The MOI will work with Nantou to adopt a standardized set of potential natural disaster maps, which symbolize the growing attention paid to potential disasters in Taiwan, to overlap with the map of Cingjing Farm, and to identify local hostels that may be in potentially hazardous areas, Lee said.

MOTC's Records Differ from MOI's

The MOI last Thursday said among the 134 hostels at Cingjing Farm, only four completely comply with the relevant regulations; however, the Tourism Bureau website, which is operated by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC), shows that 101 hostels at Cingjing operate legally. The MOI has also not said what hostels are in violation, or even what regulations are being violated.

In response, Lee said given that the issue of Cingjing Farm hostels involves various regulations, different departments would have different determiners for the legality of hostels.

Lee further explained that a disqualified hostel could mean that it was built illegally, or it could also mean that it poses a potential risk during natural disasters, noting that in the future the MOI will attempt to create a standardized system to evaluate the legality of the hostels at Cingjing.

The minister noted that untangling the Cingjing issue will require a lot of work, and the first important thing to do is to clarify what maps can be adopted, then conduct a site investigation at Cingjing with domestic experts. “It will not be an easy task,” he added.

Lee stressed that he will not participate in the site investigation, explaining that “if I go to Cingjing, it would look like as if I am doing a show.”

The MOI is slated to offer a complete land analysis of Cingjing Farm in two weeks, and announce the names of the hostels that are locate within the middle- to high-risk land scope for natural disasters. In addition, the MOI will release a list of the regulations that have been violated.

The MOI however stressed that it will not immediately demolish those illegal hostels located in the potentially dangerous areas, noting that the following settlement issue of Cingjing requires will numerous government departments to work together.

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